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Sewer traps and heat maps: Proactive Michigan approaches to rat control

a brown rat (rattus norvegicus) runs in the gutter of a road
Rats are commonly found in big cities with a lot of trash, but one Michigan city is trying to get ahead of the problem. (Shutterstock)
  • Dearborn added 300 traps in the city’s sewer to address the rat population
  • City officials said the pilot program was inspired by a similar program in Ypsilanti   
  • Flint is proactively addressing rat removal ahead of demolition of abandoned buildings

A “citywide subterranean rat prevention program,” in Dearborn has grown by  300 rat traps underground, an expansion of a pilot program launched over the summer that saw 160 traps in the city’s sewer system. 

Dearborn is among Michigan cities like Ypsilanti and Flint taking more proactive approaches to rat control.


“This new, multifaceted above and below-ground solution allows us to manage rat populations more safely and efficiently year-round,” said Dearborn Mayor Abdullah Hammoud in a statement

Rats not only spread disease but also cause structural damage to a city’s sewage system when they nest underground during the winter. 


Dearborn’s Vector Control System, which helps eradicate pests within the city, has partnered with Orkin, a national pest control company, which will set and monitor the traps, as well as provide the city with a heatmap identifying problem areas. 

“Our goal is not only to see a reduction in rat infestations and complaints but also to gain access to data that will prove valuable as we manage this issue moving forward,” Hammoud said. 

Orkin will provide the city with data analysis, inspections on city-owned properties and monitor the program monthly, according to the city.

Renault Arseneau, Dearborn’s code enforcement manager, notes large metropolitan areas where there are a lot of businesses, especially restaurants, tend to have more rats, a concern that needed to be addressed. 

Dearborn’s program follows a similar effort in Ypsilanti Township, where some of the storm drains were used as a bait location to trap rats, in order to better maintain the storm drain system, said Kristen Schweighoefer, environmental health director for the Washtenaw County Health Department. 

Meanwhile Flint contracted three pest removal companies as part of a program to demolish hazardous structures in the city, Caitie O'Neill, communications director for the city of Flint, told Bridge Michigan. 

“We have been sending some rodent removal contractors to these demolition sites ahead of demolition so that when those structures are taken down any rodents in those abandoned structures do not disperse into the neighborhood, ”O’Neill said. 

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